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Long seen as a prepaid mobile market, Africa's communications industry is on the cusp of a major upheaval. With the rollout of higher-speed 3G and 4G networks, and a fall in prices, many consumers are getting their first ever taste of data services.

Interest in social networking and other web applications is soaring, as rising incomes and a population explosion attract the attention of the world's biggest Internet players. But this upheaval is not confined to consumer and mobile markets. The fixed-line and enterprise sectors also looked poised for growth thanks to the increasing deployment of ultra-broadband (FTTx) and metro fiber networks, the introduction of IoT infrastructure, investments in new city WiFi networks and data center facilities, and even the introduction of SDN, NFV and other cloud/virtualization technologies, as Africa, along with the rest of the world, gears up for a 5G world.

That's why the industry needs the Connecting Africa community, which will track, analyze and report on all the major developments in Africa's communications market, identifying the key trends and talking to the movers and shakers who are transforming the continent.

The community will be the online portal that provides year-round coverage of a market that meets at the annual AfricaCom event (tmt.knect365.com/africacom) in Cape Town, as well as at the regional events, Nigeria Com (https://tmt.knect365.com/nigeria-com), East Africa Com (https://tmt.knect365.com/eastafricacom) and West Africa Com (https://tmt.knect365.com/west-africa-com).

The community site will provide year-round coverage of the key topics explored in Cape Town and there's a great deal to discuss, analyse and understand. For everyone involved in the region's communications sector, much is at stake. The mobile data boom has not yet translated into earnings growth for many. While the costs of making voice calls and sending text messages have continued to fall, consumers have taken advantage of cheap data deals to access Internet telephony and messaging applications, such as Viber and WhatsApp. That has put additional pressure on traditional sources of revenue, fueling mistrust between telcos and Internet players. There are few signs of functional partnerships.

The infrastructural challenges are also immense. Much of Africa's interior is poorly connected, lacking the fiber networks that can provide the "backhaul" for more advanced mobile Internet services. Network sharing could help operators to overcome these hurdles, but progress here has been halting. Regulation appears to be a further barrier.

But there is plenty of cause for optimism. Mobile money services, which first took shape in Africa, have become a vital source of growth for companies like Orange, and remain hugely important for Africa's economies. The enterprise market is flourishing, as businesses embrace a new wave of cloud and unified communications services. In urban hotspots, operators such as Liquid Telecom are even demonstrating that fiber-to-the-home networks can be commercially viable.

Perhaps above all, Africa's greenfield status could aid the rollout of new technologies. In more developed Western markets, operators are struggling to integrate digital systems with legacy platforms that cannot easily be shut down. Others continue to defer investments, preferring to sweat their existing assets for as long as possible. Few African service providers face the same dilemma. Already, there are signs of bold moves in areas such as digital transformation. Internet giants, meanwhile, see Africa as the perfect arena for the testing and launch of new connectivity technologies, as they strive to lower the costs of Internet access.

In the consumer market, the topics covered include:

  • Mobile money
  • Mobile content
  • Broadband connectivity
  • OTT threats
  • 4G launches and spectrum
  • Monetizing data
  • Regulation
  • Startups

When it comes to the enterprise sector, the Connecting Africa community will explore issues such as:

  • Cloud/managed hosting services
  • Connectivity/broadband, fiber network rollout
  • Metro, international capacity
  • Colocation, data centers
  • Web-scale players pushing into Africa
  • Virtualization

Content will take a variety of formats, including daily news analysis, executive interviews, expert guest contributions, video reports, webinars, community polls, slideshows and infographics.

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Webinars
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
2:00 p.m Cape Town / 1:00 p.m London / 8:00 a.m New York

4G is fundamentally altering the African broadband landscape, driving changes in pricing models and ushering in a new breed of players. As more African operators struggle with finding the optimal balance of affordable pricing and service profitability, and as traffic volumes continue to explode, this webinar will take stock of 4G developments in the region.

Thursday, November 2, 2017
2:00 p.m Cape Town / 1:00 p.m London / 8:00 a.m New York

Available data center white space has doubled over the past five years and has been growing by an average of around 15% annually. This webinar will assess this transformation, and provide a window into what the expanding demand for cloud services means for the future of the African data center market.

Thursday, November 16, 2017
2:00 p.m Cape Town / 1:00 p.m London / 8:00 a.m New York

FTTH rollout has accelerated across Africa, driven by increased availability and consumption of bandwidth-hungry content, from video streaming services to cloud-based enterprise applications. This webinar will provide an overview of key trends in this burgeoning sector, along with some perspective on the status of deployments, economic feasibility and competition with alternative broadband access technologies (mobile broadband in particular).

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Upcoming Live Events
September 20-21, 2017, Lagos Oriental Hotel, Lagos, Nigeria
November 6-10, 2017, Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), Cape Town, South Africa
All Upcoming Live Events
Flash Poll
Video
THE PLACE TO SHAPE AFRICA'S DIGITAL FUTURE. Anyone who's anyone in African telecoms and technology will be at AfricaCom 2017, 7-9 November, at the ...
East Africa Com was proud to welcome Uber's General Manager for East Africa, Loic Amado. We caught up with Loic to chat about how Uber is ...
Connecting Africa's Portfolio Director talks to us about aligning AfricaCom with Africa's path towards the 4th Industrial Revolution, the ...
Segeni Nge'the, Director of Moja Wifi, joined East Africa Com as a speaker and panelist at the 2017 event. In this in-depth interview, we ...
For Google South Africa's Country Director, driving access to the Internet for emerging African businesses is vital to the continent's economic ...
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